Training is so expensive, where will we find the money?

Training and upgrading is central to keeping employed in today’s climate of disruption and displacement. By now, you must already know that no job is secure, no job is really “long term” and everyone is at risk of being made irrelevant by new technologies. So, no question about it, we have to re-train and arm ourselves with new skills.

But look at the courses – they’re all in the thousands, if not tens of thousands for some specialty courses. If the purpose is to attract people, why are providers pricing these courses at such high figures? Isn’t this making upgrading out of reach for people?

Firstly, let us deal with the fact that the prices are high for a reason. You’re paying industry specialists to part with their time to teach someone else the tricks of your trade. You’re also paying for the developmental work that the school or training organisation is doing. If they were not going around speaking, doing and generally being active in the industry, your training wouldn’t be recognised either. There is a lot of mileage in the amount that you pay. 

Now, there is also funding available. In fact, in Singapore…there is so much funding available you’re better off calling them up or speaking with the course consultant to see what’s available for you. There is SkillsFuture, UTAP, SDF, WTS… there are also fundings and reliefs that target employers to urge them to support you in your endeavours. For a quick overview, you can have a look at this website:

But what better way to illustrate this than through an example? Let’s take the illustration of a person who wants to re-train into the Early Childhood field.

Long story short, after all the available funding, a $13,700 course becomes a $1657 course. And that’s before using SkillsFuture credits. Not bad eh?

I’ve got friends from Japan who tell me that the amount of funding available in Singapore is incredible. But they also question the purpose: aren’t you responsible for your own training? Your own future? Why should any other organisation pay for you? 

In a way, I agree with my Japanese friend. There is so much funding in Singapore that people don’t see the value of these courses. I believe if they were made to pay for it themselves, they might see the true value and appreciate the courses more.

The problem that government agencies face, is to even get Singaporeans interested and taking action. There is more than enough advertising, articles, trade union pushes, social media content and public talks to get people to take action and take charge of their own future. But response is still weak. The government is literally telling you: here, there is money and here, there’s a bunch of things you can learn – can you please go and attend?

Participation is low. Too many of us are happy with keeping the status quo. After all without moving a finger, we’re at full employment and salaries continue to rise. I’ve been told that each time you need a pay rise, just change jobs. The world can be battered by trade wars, threatening recessions and increasing competition…but the shelter we’ve built in Singapore is successfully weathering Singaporeans from the economic typhoon in the world. 

Kind of like our sheltered walkways; in many places in the world, it really is quite normal to either bring your own umbrella or get wet. In other countries, if you don’t keep up with the job market, you starve. Over here, we’ve protected people so well from starving that people demand this protection rather than to improve themselves. 

Personally, I’m enjoying all these opportunities. We’ve got access to world class organisations, leaders and they’re accessible to all who bother to attend the appropriate events. Because of our fertile business environment, the most powerful organisations and their chiefs are in this country. We can then pair all these to pursue the training opportunities, the sandboxes and think tanks and make something out of it. 

Over here, opportunities are everywhere and they’re even being served on a silver plater. We just need to go out and take them.

We’ve got the money.

We’ve got the time.

We just need Singaporeans to be curious and hungry.

Share your thoughts!

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